Maybe it's because this was the first performance of the Fifth Symphony I ever heard, but this has always been my favorite recording of it. Conducted by the composer's son, this performance takes a more unified interpretation than I've heard in other recordings. That is, it views the music more as a continuous organic stream. Shifts in tempo and mood are more subtle than in some other recordings - this has the effect of downplaying the 'grotesque' element which is so often ascribed to Shostakovich's music. The overall tempos of each movement, also, seem to me to be more appropriate; slow tempos are never allowed to drag, fast tempos never accelerate to the point of ridiculousness. While some would say that this is a less imaginative approach, and that the grotesque and black humor elements are signatures of Shostakovich's style, I also think in this case Maxim's interpretation allows the music to become more purely musical - less a commentary on artistic politics, Soviet life or culture, or any of the various other extramusical programs that customarily are attached to this piece - and more simply a wonderful and timeless symphonic statement. And the popularity of Shostakovich's music even among people who never experienced the Soviet regime attests to the universal humanity and inherent musical value of his work.